New planning laws to ‘cut out unnecessary bureaucracy’

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The government has outlined new planning laws which will mean full planning applications will not be required to demolish and rebuild unused buildings

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said the new planning laws would deliver much-needed new homes and revitalise town centres across England.

The new rules, which will come into effect by September, will mean full planning applications will not be required to demolish and rebuild unused buildings.

This will allow homes and commercial and retail properties to be quickly repurposed to help revive high streets and town centres.

As part of the new laws, homeowners will also be able to add up to 2 additional storeys to their home to create new homes or more living space for growing families through a fast track approval process.

This is expected to reduce pressure on greenfield sites and deliver more homes that fit the character of their local area, without the red tape.

This month the government will set out plans to reform England’s 7-decade old planning system to deliver more high-quality, well-designed homes, and beautiful and greener communities for people to live in.

‘Cutting out unnecessary bureaucracy’

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick, said: “We are reforming the planning system and cutting out unnecessary bureaucracy to give small business owners the freedom they need to adapt and evolve, and to renew our town centres with new enterprises and more housing.

“These changes will help transform boarded up, unused buildings safely into high quality homes at the heart of their communities. It will mean that families can add up to 2 storeys to their home, providing much needed additional space for children or elderly relatives as their household grows.”

Pubs, libraries, village shops and other buildings essential to communities will not be covered by these flexibilities.

Industry response

Commenting on the announcement, Claire Dutch, partner and co-head of planning and environment at Ashurst, said: “We’ve all been waiting eagerly to see the detail on this controversial relaxing of planning rules.

“We want to see what constitutes an ‘unused’ building and what can be built in its place.

“Will the new law itself be enough to boost housing numbers and save town centres, or will it be used more as a planning tool to improve the chances of getting planning permission? By this I mean, will it be used tactically as a first step in the planning process, as we often found with the office to resi pd right?”

Dutch added: “Much has been made of this dramatic slashing of red tape, but it’ll be interesting to see how quickly these ‘unused’ buildings can be repurposed and what that will actually mean for the housing and town centre crises. The proof will be in the pudding.”

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, said:  “The housing secretary is absolutely right to highlight the mounting pressure on Green Belt and greenfield sites and we welcome the focus on urban regeneration to relieve that pressure – the closest the government has come to adopting the all-out ‘brownfield first policy’ that we desperately need.

“But there remain major concerns over the quality of housing and other developments being delivered.

“Our evidence has shown that three-quarters of housing developments should not have been granted planning permission due to poor or mediocre design quality. Further deregulation as proposed here, would only make the problem worse.

“Given the amount of time we are spending at home and in our local areas, it has never been more important to deliver better quality homes and green spaces.

“That’s why we’re urging the government to keep planning local. Communities need to have more of a say in planning for local homes and places.”

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